Johnnie Ned Henagan

October 10, 1932 - January 16, 2023
Johnnie Ned Henagan


Johnnie Ned Henagan, of Wilmington NC, passed away at the age of 90 on Monday, January 16, 2023 of pancreatic cancer at Lower Cape Fear Lifecare Hospice Center. He left this life in the loving arms of his wife with his children by his side. Johnnie passed at exactly 5:00pm, when Retreat is sounded on military installations to signify the end of the workday. Retreat is traditionally a time to secure the flag and pay respect to what it stands for.

Johnnie was born on October 10, 1932, on a tenant farm in Bayou Current, Louisiana to Carrol and Alma Henagan. As a youth, he learned the value of hard work and by age 17 was managing a cotton gin. After graduating high school, Johnnie attended McNeese State University on an ROTC scholarship, graduating in 1954 with a degree in Education. As a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army, Johnnie was stationed in Germany in 1956 where he met the love of his life, Ilse Rumpf. They married and went on to begin a life together that took them around the world. Johnnie’s continuous desire to serve others led him to a career with the American National Red Cross, serving on military installations around the globe including Vietnam from 1968-1969. From 1970-1972 while based in Japan, Johnnie was honored to act as the National delegate to meet monthly with the Chinese officials on the Hong Kong/China border to ensure our US POWs held in China were cared for according to Geneva Convention protocol. Concurrently, he was the official US representative to the Japanese Red Cross. He then went on to earn his MBA from the University of West Florida in 1976 and graduated from the US Army Command and General Staff College in 1977. In 1990 he was sent to Saudi Arabia in support of Desert Shield. Johnnie was extremely proud of his military career, always referring to it as an honor and a privilege. He rose to the rank of Colonel and retired after 32 years of service.

Upon retirement in 1994, Johnnie’s call to serve continued. His love of Wilmington and Historic Sunset Park in particular, led him to appointments to the City Board of Adjustment, Planning Commission, and many other City of Wilmington committees. A strong believer in the preservation of neighborhoods, Johnnie co-founded CONA (Council of Neighborhood Associations) and served as President of that organization as well as President of the Sunset Park Neighborhood Association for many years. He also worked closely with the Wilmington Police Department to develop strong, positive community relationships. In 2010, Johnnie was presented with the City of Wilmington Inaugural Service Award in recognition of volunteering significant time and effort to the betterment of our community by Mayor Bill Saffo.

Johnnie was predeceased by his parents, Carroll and Alma Henagan and his brothers Billy, Jimmy and his wife Shirley, and Jerry Henagan.

Surviving are his loving wife of 66 years, Ilse, and their two children, son Patrick Henagan and wife  Laura of Raleigh and daughter Helene Henagan Gallaway and husband Larry of Houston, TX as well as his sisters-in-law Fammie Henagan and Pauline Henagan (Louisiana) and Ute Lutzel (Germany). His five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews were his pride and joy.

A memorial service will be held at a future date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to a charity of choice.

Please share memories and condolence to the family by visiting the “Tribute Wall” below.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403.  910-791-9099

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  • January 23, 2023
    Jim Varrone says:
    Ilse, I am so sorry for your loss. Johnnie was a one of a kind individual that truly cared for his fellow neighbor. I wish you much peace and comfort. Best, Jim Varrone

  • January 23, 2023
    Larry Gallaway says:
    Johnnie was an amazing man and the best father-in-law I could ever have asked for. His was a life of service: US Army Colonel, veteran of Vietnam and Desert Shield/Storm, many leadership roles in the American Red Cross, pillar of the City of Wilmington in many different roles. He lived a full and impactful life and I am blessed to have been a part of it. He was a wonderful role model for us and our kids and I will miss him dearly.

  • January 22, 2023
    Ilse Henagan posted an image:
    You will be forever in my heart. I love you. I will see you again, your loving wife Ilse.
    You will be forever in my heart. I love you. I will see you again, your loving wife Ilse.

  • January 22, 2023
    Annika Gallaway says:
    One thing I'll always remember my Opa for is his sense of humor. He had a witty one-liner for every situation and they've made me laugh for as long as I can remember. He always indulged my curiosity about the world. I have a fond memory of helping him fix a lamp when I was little, him showing me what each part did and how it worked. He was an incredible man and will be dearly missed.

  • January 22, 2023
    Helene Henagan Gallaway says:
    A good man left this earth yesterday. A man who was known in so many different ways: Colonel, public servant, educator, community activist, friend to many, devoted husband, and loving father. I called him Dad. My Dad was a gentle soul who taught me that a voice didn’t need to be loud to be powerful. To not just identify a problem but to be part of the solution. To be fair and just, to do the hard work, and to be accountable for my words and actions. I’m a lover of books because of my Dad. He encouraged me to read everything under the sun. He taught me to love words, and to recognize how impactful words can be, from gentle poems of love he wrote for my Mom to making us laugh at his clever witticisms. I’m a lover of nature because of my Dad. Birds and a beautiful blue sky always made him smile. A sharecropper’s son, he taught me to appreciate the earth’s precious resources. He had the ability to make something from nothing: toys from a scrap of paper, a whistle from a blade of grass, a hummingbird feeder from an old bottle and some wire. He always saw the potential in the things and people around him. I learned activism from my Dad. Instead of taking direct action for me when I observed a problem at school, he taught me to do it myself. He believed in the power of his daughter, a petition, and a speech. I was in 5th grade when I moved my first mountain because he knew I could. I’m a peacekeeper because of my Dad. It seems counterintuitive to think of a man who spent his entire adult life in the military as a lover of peace but that’s exactly what he was. Never enter a conflict without a strong justifiable cause, a clear mission, and a good exit plan. And always be accountable for your actions. My strong, brave father had the softest heart and an unshakable sense of justice. I learned about devotion from my Dad. For 66 years not a day went by without him telling my mom that he loved her. He had stars in his eyes every time he looked at her, even in his final days. He loved his children dearly and his grandchildren truly were his pride and joy. If dementia can be called the “long goodbye”, pancreatic cancer should be called the “thief in the night”. One worked slowly to blur out the details; the other snuck in to steal our time together. I adored my father. I’m proud to have so much of him in me. I miss him terribly and always will.